2014 Land Rover LR4 HSE LUX Review
It's tough to top a Land Rover.
Web2Carz Contributing Writer
Published: December 12th, 2014
Land Rover's LR4 received a serious "refresh" for the 2014 model year. Gone is the V-8, replaced by a downsized (both in displacement and power) supercharged 3.0-liter V-6. Gone is the two-speed transfer case, although it's still available as an option. Gone, as well, is the LR4's face; it's been replaced with something that looks a little less like the last-generation Range Rover, although some of those elements do carry over even in the new visage. Land Rover knows to keep things "in the family," so to speak, so if you were expecting something radical, this isn't the place to look. Even the upcoming all-new Discovery keeps its aesthetic largely tied to its big-brother Range Rover family.
But that's not a bad thing, not at all. The LR4 (nÃ©e Discovery, in case you didn't know the connection there) sticks to a formula that works - it's a body-on-frame SUV that is meant to hit the trail, with plenty of room for cargo both human and otherwise. We love it, and we think folks looking for SUVs in the $50,000+ range will love it, too, even if they only ever use it for the commute to work.
The first thing you'll notice in the LR4's interior is the light. There's plenty of it, which is part and parcel with the Land Rover experience; after all, if you're driving off road, you're going to want to see where you're going. Between the giant slabs of glass on the LR4's sides and the three (yes, three) sunroofs up top, the car feels more like a greenhouse than an SUV.
Up front, the driver's experience will be immediately familiar to owners of previous or current Land Rovers. The center stack is laid out in a straightforward manner, with all the infotainment up top, HVAC controls in the middle, and the transmission/drivetrain business all clustered up at the bottom. It's easy to commit the button locations to muscle memory, although the screen's small-ish size can lead to some road-gaze-averting squints from time to time.
No matter which row you're in (and you get three to choose from), you'll be seated in total comfort. The LR4's tall stature gives it plenty of headroom, and it helps to open up the interior in general. The third row (which can fold flat into the cargo area to give owners, you know, some room for cargo) has a surprising amount of legroom in the rear, although adults might have trouble on long-distance trips. Those seats, by the way, are among the easiest to store, requiring no more than two quick pulls per side.
The classic shape of the Land Rover Discovery peeks its way through the LR4's new-for-2014 aesthetic, especially in the slightly-raised roof panel that is clearly visible in the car's silhouette. The front end is still unmistakably Land Rover, and despite the fact that the headlights look like copies from the last-generation Range Rover, it's a fresh design that will keep this car classified among the attractive sort until its eventual redesign to something a bit more 21st-century. It's big, it's boxy, and it might be considered heresy to have a Land Rover LR4 shaped in any other way.
We especially enjoyed our tester LR4, which came with the optional Black Design Package; that package replaces the exterior's shiny bits (wheels included) with a version done up in all black, and in conjunction with the bright-white paint slathered on the sheet metal, it looked pretty badass for a body-on-frame SUV rolling straight out of the factory.
On the Road
It's a body-on-frame SUV, so it's to be expected that there will be some floating and undulation present on the road. It's true, the LR4 does wallow a bit around tighter corners, but it still feels eminently more nimble than its competitor, the Lexus GX 460, and in general, it feels pretty close to unibody, which speaks leagues of Land Rover's engineers.
Even with that inherent softness, the LR4 gets going in a (relative) hurry. There's always power on tap from the new-for-2014 3.0-liter supercharged V-6; yes, the V-8 is gone, but the six still gives the LR4 plenty of hustle for a heavy box on wheels. Connected to ZF's ubiquitous eight-speed automatic, the drivetrain is fully capable of doing its job without getting in anybody's way, driver included.
Speaking of boxy, that shape does contribute to a bit of wind noise at highway speeds, but it's nothing the sound system (or some conversation with passengers) can't drown out.
The Land Rover LR4 starts at a very reasonable price, just shy of $50,000. However, there are plenty of trim level and option boxes to check, and if you start aiming for the top trim, it's going to put the hurt on your wallet. Our tester was the LR4 HSE LUX, which is the LR4's top-of-the-line trim, giving the car such standard equipment as premium leather seats, a cooler box in the center console, and Meridian's excellent 17-speaker surround-sound audio system. All that cool stuff comes with a $10,200 premium attached; that said, if you're willing to sacrifice some luxury in order to procure yourself a damned decent off-roader and people-hauler, you can snag quite the good deal without losing most of the important stuff (we really, really love the Meridian systems in Land Rover vehicles).
Off-road enthusiasts will be saddened to find out that the two-speed transfer case is no longer standard (due in part to Land Rover's acknowledgement that most LR4s will end up at Whole Foods, not Moab). Rest assured, fans of the dirt; for $1,350, you can get that transfer case back, in addition to a locking rear differential and a full-size spare tire.
So, is it a good value? We think so. Two of the LR4's competitors (Infiniti QX80, Mercedes GL-Class) start at a much higher price point, leaving the LR4 standing next to the Lexus GX 460. Putting the two vehicles side by side, the Lexus looks more imposing, but between its slightly-better-than-Toyota interior and general handling characteristics, the Land Rover comes away as the superior vehicle.
Specs & Price
Engine: 3.0-liter supercharged V-6
Transmission: Eight-speed automatic
Drivetrain Layout: Front-engine, full-time 4WD
Power Output: 340 horsepower / 332 lb-ft
Fuel Economy (mpg): 14 city / 19 highway
Base Price: $49,700
As Tested: $68,375 (incl. $925 destination)
Vision Assist Package: Adaptive front headlights with daytime running lights, automatic high beam assist, blind-spot monitor, reverse traffic detection with closing vehicle sensing, surround camera system
Heavy Duty Package: Two-speed transfer case, active locking rear differential, full-size spare
Individual Options: HD and satellite radio, rear-seat entertainment system, adaptive cruise control
• For more information such as specs, prices, and photos of the 2014 Land Rover LR4, click here: 2014 Land Rover LR4.